Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park - Reached the Summit 6/2011

About Our Blog


This Blog is intended to be a photo album, journal and scrapbook of sorts to record our trips and adventures be it hiking, rock climbing, trekking or even just vacationing at a great resort. Anything and everything that is fun and exciting away from home that we do with family and friends! We thought this would be a great way to not only look back on our memories ourselves but also to share them with others. Maybe we will even inspire someone to go on a few new adventures along the way.

While we have had many exciting adventures in the past, we made the decision to limit this Blog to the here and now. That means no playing catch up on the years and travels behind us but instead focusing on the Summer of 2011 and forward until now.

We hope you enjoy the Blog. Please email us at smithoutdoorsandtravel@yahoo.com with questions or comments. You may also follow us on Twitter at smithoutdoors, subscribe to us on YouTube at SmithOutdoorsVideos and friend us on Facebook at Smith Outdoors.

Remember, where there's a will there's a trail - and if not, there's always a pool!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Climbing Mount Whitney in August 2011

Yes, we made it -

Yes, it was horrible -

Check out the YouTube Videos

Here is a quick recap!!!

On the way there we came across this Buddhist Temple in the middle of nowhere!

A Must Stop - ASTRO BURGER!!!

1st stop once we got to Lone Pine - Time for a drink!!!

World Famous Alabama Hills Arch - took some finding, but we did it!

Very Cool!!!

Very Creepy!!!

Sunset before we head out on the trail at midnight

Dawn from about half way up


Dan got sick as a dog!!! Altitude Sickness :-(

But we made it to 14,494 feet, Mount Whitney,
Tallest Peak in Continental United States

The trip down was even worse than up! Took the Mountaineers route down to complete the entire circuit. Not as much fun as it sounded. 20 Hours start to finish!!!


A quick stop at Fossil Falls on the way home!!!

Boulder Basin Family Camping Trip

A YouTube video is available for a bit more detail of this trip!

Kids all striking a pose on a rock!

Loves the headlamp


Fishing in Lake Fulmor

Dirty with Giggles

Matching Camping Buddies

Fire Lookout Tower at the top of Black Mountain

July 2011 - A Quick Recap

Most of the activities here are also in our YouTube videos in a bit more detail!

Mugs Away Saloon "Moon the Train"

Huntington Beach Dog Beach

Huntington Beach Dog Beach

Hangar 18 in Riverside

Geo Caching

REI Used Gear Sale, Tustin

A's Burgers, Laguna Niguel

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Holy Jim Trail and Falls, July 2011

Here are some photos of a dayhike we took one weekend in July, 2011.

Also, stay tuned for the edited video of the hike coming soon to YouTube and reposted here on the Blog as well.


Adventurers: Dan, Melody, McKenna, Charlie, Patches

When: July 2011

Location: Holy Jim Trail, Santiago Canyon

Duration: Daytrip in OC

Stay: Daytrip in OC

Mileage: 1 mile each way, 650 foot elevation gain

Highlights: Reaching the Falls

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yosemite Summer, 2011

We have opted to try a different format on our second post - instead of a story followed by photos with captions we thought we would have all the photos appear chronologically with a caption/small story. We would love to hear your thoughts on which format you like more. Also, stay tuned for the edited video of the entire trip coming soon to YouTube and reposted here on the Blog as well.


Adventurers: Dan, Melody, Shawn, Erica

When: June and July 2011

Location: Yosemite, Route 395

Duration: 10 Days, 9 Nights

Stay: Backpacking and Campgrounds

Mileage: 70 miles on foot, 7 hours drive each way

Highlights: Summiting Half Dome, Mist Trail, Bear Sightings

Must See:

The Mist Trail from Happy Isles to the top of Vernal Falls. A short hike, but a wet hike. Do it on a warm day and the mist is awesome. Don't wear cotton and you'll be dry in minutes. Don't be one of those poncho wearing types!

Sentinel Dome might have the best views in all of Yosemite. You can see EVERYTHING. And there is a pretty easy trailhead off of Glacier Point Road that just about anyone can do (unlike the crazy steep 4 Mile Trail from the Valley floor). Only 1.25 miles.

Leaving through the Tioga Pass South on the 395? Stop in Mammoth to see Devil's Postpile National Monument, Mammoth Brewing Company (Rootbeer for kids) and Manzanar National Historic Site.


Bring walking sticks. They are great for the knees on the downills and also double in case of freak rainstorms as clothes dryers.

Doing Half Dome? Bring gloves for the cables. Garden gloves, the kind with rubber that are sort of sticky work best.

Doing Half Dome? Don't try to day hike it. Backpack in the day before. Stay at a campsite at the junction of the John Muir Trail and Clouds Rest Trail right next to the creek. Best campsite in all of Yosemite.Wake up early and beat all the day hikers leaving from the Valley floor in the morning and get Half Dome all to yourself. Not doing Half Dome? Camp there anyway. Trust us!

Get up early (dark) and hit the trails at dawn. The trails are practically empty and you get the best chances to see wildlife early in the morning. This is once in a lifetime type of stuff. Do you really need the extra two hours of sleep?

Day 1 - The Yosemite Valley view from the Wawona Tunnel Lookout.

The Wawona Tunnel Survey Monument.

Erica, Shawn, Dan and Mel at Wawona Tunnel Lookout.

First 15 minutes in Yosemite Village - Yeah, the deer are quite friendly, especially with Snow White Melody. Shawn says "The deer are like rats. They're everywhere."

Day 2 - Time to start hiking. Up, up and away!

Don't feed the wildlife - especially the ones known to carry Bubonic Plague - doesn't apply to Snow White I guess. Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.

This Pacific Rattlesnake was about 20 yards down the path from the squirrel. Snow White didn't try to pet this one!

Survey Monument half way up the Yosemite Falls trail.

A rock cairn Dan built on the Yosemite Falls trail.

Day 3 - Dan and Mel on the summit of El Capitan. No Survey Monument could be found ANYWHERE!!! Not even under any rocks.

Mel blew out her knee on this hike and the bandana was the only thing handy to try to stabilize it. A very painful day and it continued the rest of the trip. Thank goodness for Tramadol.

Dan on Eagle Peak. Arg - no Survey Monument here either.
If you look closely, center of the photo and up just a bit - yep, that's a bear alright!
Save the bears. Here is a photo of one of the many info boards in the park detailing bear "incidents".

Erica was the super spotter for wildlife all trip long. She spotted Smokey here on the way back from El Capitan right by a meadow. We tracked him/her for a little bit to get this close and take a few pics. A little blurry due to a racing heart and shaky hand from being so close on pursuit. One of the highlights of the trip.

Day 4 - Up at 4 am to catch the sunrise from Yosemite Point by 5:30 am. Mel found this great overhang to protect us from the wind. We made hot tea and had  fantastic view.

View from Yosemite Point of the Sun coming up over Half Dome. You can still see the Moon just a little.

Dan and Shawn as the Sun is rising over the mountains on our way to North Dome.

North Dome Survey Monument. FINALLY!!!

Dan and Mel on the summit of North Dome.

Day 5 - Heading up the Mist Trail. Rainbows galore.

It's higher than it looks. Someone lugged those stones all the way up there to make a cairn.

Dan and Mel at the top of the Mist Trail/Vernal Falls. This part of the trip was the highlight for all four of us.

Shawn, Erica, Melody and Dan at the top of Vernal Falls.

The John Muir Trail. Camp for the night is about 3 miles away. Half Dome is about 5 miles away. Mount Whitney is about 215 miles away!
Shawn, AKA Karate Kid, getting ready to climb Half Dome at sunrise.

Best camp EVER. Ranger approved fire ring. Stream on the side of camp. Flat. Great seating from fallen trees cut into seats. We didn't want to ever leave it.

Day 6 - Half Dome summit. Woke up at 3:30 am. Hiked in the dark. Were on the cables with headlamps when the sun came up. Perfect. Less than a dozen others on the summit that morning. We hit nearly a hundred people heading to Half Dome on the trek back to camp. Having it practically to ourselves was AMAZING. Plan ahead. Don't miss this trip. Tip - bring plastic garden gloves for the cables - the sticky/rough kind. Here Mel is at the top of the cables.

Erica and Shawn almost to the top on the cables of Half Dome.
We made it! Dan and Mel's new favorite picture. That is Sentinel Dome in the background.

A cairn built by a Boy Scout Troop at the top of Half Dome. Very impressive.

A little REI swag - Dan on top of Half Dome wearing the Tshirt he got for volunteering at National Trail Cleanup Day.

Dan getting warm after just being in an REI Tshirt. This was a nice little wind protected area in the rocks on the top of Half Dome.
Pretty cool pic of Mel and Dan climbing down the cables of Half Dome courtesy of Shawn and Erika who went down first.

We looked and looked and looked. Then we looked some more. We couldn't find the Survey Monument. What gives? So, Dan built this cairn and message for Mel.

Day 7 - It rained on us last night and since we thought it was going to be clear our rain fly wasn't really ready to go. This is a pic of us trying to dry everything out by the campfire - not a wildnerness gear sale. Tip - walking sticks are great for drying clothes by the fire.

Dan on Moraine Dome summit with a cairn he built. That is Half Dome in the backgound covered in clouds. No Survey Monument.

Now that's a big vein of Quartz on Moraine Dome.

Wildflowers on Moraine Dome.

Wildflowers on Moraine Dome.

These two Mule Deer came into our camp every morning and every night.

Day 8 - While looking for the ancient Native American petropgliphs Dan stumbled upon this bear den. Never did find the petrogliphs.

Western Gray Squirrel

Erica and Shawn at The Awanee.

Dan with John Muir/Lee Stetson getting a book signed after the performance. This show is a MUST SEE one man performance in Yosemite Village!!!

Day 9 - Up again at 4 am. Hike a few miles in the dark with headlamps to Mirror Lake to watch the Sun come up. Take a phenominal picture? Check!

Found this surprise by Mirror Lake. 1,000+ rock cairns.

This was a great sign.

This is Ahwiyah Point where the rock falls keep happening. We were actually woken up during the night to a 90 second GIGANTIC rockfall that echoed through the Valley. And it happened the same night as we first heard about rockfalls during the John Muir play. Spooky!

Mel and Dan in front of the Le Conte Memorial which is also the Yosemite headquarters and library for the Sierra Club. This is the 2nd oldest building in Yosemite.

1 down - 7 to go!!!

Here is a baby Pacific Fisher? How freakin' cool is that? Dan found it while tracking deer and bear in the meadows by the Merced River on Day 9.

Dan and Mel in front of the Yosemite Valley Chapel which is the oldest building in the Yosemite Valley.

High water mark from floods was at the Chapel back in 1997. These guys are so silly!

Wildflowers by Sentinel Dome.

Wildflowers by Sentinel Dome.

Mel and Dan on the summit of Sentinel Dome on the famous old Jeffrey Pine.

The Sentinel Dome Survey Monument.

Dan and Mel at Glacier Point.

The Glacier Point Survey Monument.

The historic Wawona Hotel.

Wildflowers around Wawona.

Wildflowers around Wawona.

Steller Jay in Wawona campground.

Dan on the way home down the historic 395 at the Mammoth Brewing Company.

Dan and Mel in the Bishop Hot Springs on the way home to soak the muscles. We walked nearly 70 miles on this trip. Everyone but Dan got blisters. Everyone, including Dan, was sore.

Wildflower at Bishop Hot Springs.

Last stop on the 395 before hitting the real world again. Manzanar. If you have never been, you should.
So that's it! That's our trip. We had a blast. Now it's your turn. Get outside.